Far from the Madding Crowd - Relation Between Setting and ..

"Cp. William Drummond, Sonnet xlix 11: 'Far from the madding worldling's hoarse discords'. Milton uses the word, Par. Lost vi 210. The madding/cool antithesis also occurs in Agrippina (p. 36). Cp. also Dryden, Aeneid i 213-4: 'As when in Tumults rise th'ignoble Crowd, / Mad are their Motions, and their Tongues are loud', and xii 1359: ''tis mean ignoble Strife'; Dart, Westminster Abbey I viii (see ll. 17-20 n above): 'By thee secure, we leave the Road of Strife, / And tread the pleasing silent Path of Life: / Where unconcern'd we hear the Noise afar / Of wrangling Traveller's, and the Din of War.'"

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"''Maddening'' would be the more correct formation; but Gray's use of madding has given it currency, and ''Far from the Madding Crowd'' has been adopted as the title of a novel [by Thomas Hardy (1874)], just as ''Annals of the Poor,'' , supplies the title of Leigh Richmond's well known work. Rogers quotes from one of Drummond's ''Sonnets'': - ''Far from the madding worldling's hoarse discord.'' Madding occurs in ''Paradise Lost'': - ''the madding wheels / Of brazen chariots raged.'' - vi. 210. Gray has it in ''Agrippina,'' , already quoted."

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Critical essays on far from the madding crowd

"After this follows in Fraser MS.,

''The thoughtless World to Majesty may bow
Exalt the brave, and idolize Success
But more to Innocence their Safety owe
Than Power and Genius e'er conspired to bless
And thou, who mindful of the unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these Notes thy (their written above) artless Tale relate
By Night and lonely Contemplation led
To linger in the gloomy walks of Fate
Hark how the sacred Calm, that broods around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous Passion cease
In still small Accents whisp'ring from the Ground
A grateful Earnest of eternal Peace [Footnote: ''see additional note, p. 292.'']
No more with Reason and thyself at Strife
Give anxious Cares and endless Wishes room
But thro the cool sequester'd Vale of Life
Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom''
''And here,'' says Mason, ''the poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of 'the hoary-headed Swain &c.' suggested itself to him.''
Mason perhaps converted Walpole by a reference to the state of this MS., which no doubt establishes an interval between the first and second half of the poem. But he ante-dated, it maybe suspected, the composition of the first half.
The Fraser MS. (to judge from the facsimile) has a line drawn along the side of the last three, and possibly meant (as Sir W. Fraser's reprint interprets it) to include the first also of these four stanzas.
The stanzas which follow these four are: Far from the madding crowd's &c. as in the received text (with minor variations to be noted), down to 'fires,' .
All the MS. to the end of the four rejected Stanzas is in a much more faded character; and Mason must be at least so far right that the Poem from 'Far from the madding %c.' was resumed after a considerable interval.
But we have only Mason's authority for the statement that the Elegy was ever meant to end with these four stanzas, and it is very questionable. We may be biased by the completeness of the poem in its published form, - but surely without this contrast to assist our judgment it would have seemed to us to finish badly and abruptly with ''Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom.''
And if this ending would not satisfy us it could not have satisfied Gray. Again, it is probable from the MS. that down to 'Doom' the Elegy was all written much about the same time, or as the Germans say, in einem Guss. Suppose then it had reached that point in 1742, and this is probably what Mason means when he suggests that it may have been concluded then; is it conceivable that Gray, who had communicated to Walpole other completed poems of that date, and even the fragmentary , would have kept back the Elegy, which ex hypothesi he must have regarded as finished? Yet Walpole, as we have seen, is certain that Gray sent him only the first three stanzas, two or three years after the year 1742. Surely either these twelve lines were all that Gray had then written, or they were a specimen only of the unfinished poem."